'Just hang up': Toronto cops warning about CRA phone scam


Cops are reminding the public to be aware of phone scammers.

With both the younger generation and the elderly among the most vulnerable, Toronto Police Service are warning about a particular scam when someone at the other end of the line claims to work for the government or the police looking for money owed to the Canada Revenue Agency.

According to a police news release, the person calling “claims your Social Insurance Number was used to fraudulently open bank accounts, and other illegal transactions.”

Police say the caller will also give you “a false name, ID/badge number” before asking “you to send money via Bitcoin to a fake government account.”

It may also be suggested the money be paid by gift card, another crypto-currency, credit card or via Western Union.

On top of that, the person calling will threaten that if you don’t comply either “an arrest warrant will be issued” or police will come to your home to immediately arrest you.

To further confuse the issue, the caller may also “use a program” to display the phone number of the revenue agency or the local police on call display.

Sue Labine, the Call Centre Operations Supervisor for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), says the CRA scam dates back to before 2014 but couldn’t say if it was more prevalent now.

“Since January 2019, victims of the CRA scam, we received 1,115 calls to date,” said Labine. “We only get 5% of people calling in when they’re falling victim. Strictly attempted victims, where they didn’t fall to the scam, and that was 2,041 calls.”

Labine says victims can be bilked out of “an extremely high amount. It’s never the same. They’ll try to get everything they can out of a victim unfortunately. All (extortion) calls (including the CRA scam) that people have fallen victim to and were threatened, (totalled) 839 victims, as of Sept. 30, with over $8 million dollars lost.”

Police says “numerous residents have continued to receive telephone calls from these scammers. The public should be aware that police do not collect money for the Canada Revenue Agency.”

The release also says CRA never “sends emails with a link “asking for personal or financial info; never “asks for personal information of any kind by email or text;’ never “requests payment by prepaid credit cards, gift cards, Bitcoin or any form of crypto-currency;” never “gives taxpayer information to another person, unless the taxpayer gives authorization;’ never “leaves personal information on an answering machine;” and never sends the cops.

Police say the first and only thing people should do if they receive one of these calls is hang up.

“Don’t ever give out any personal information, including identification numbers, passwords, or financial information,” said the press release.

Authorities say if you or a member of your family have been victimized by this phone fraud to report it to the local police and the CAFC.

“As soon as the consumer is unsure if it’s a legit government company calling, just hangup, and wait and do the research to get the real government agency’s number,” said Labine.